IIf Cop26 were staged, it would be like a political drama in two long acts. The first act would see the leaders of rich countries like Britain, the United States and Australia grinning widely as they strut on the Glasgow stage with their friends, wringing their hands and managing the world’s expectations. The second act would see them stab each other off stage and kick the poor countries hard before fleeing.
The climate crisis conference, now in the middle of its second week, is in the second act and the final scenes are being rehearsed in late-night conversations. In a dramatic move early in the morning, Alok Sharma and the UK presidency acting as protagonists, listened to countries and produced a seven-page draft setting out the general outline of the final deal that he believes may be diplomatically possible. reach.
It is only a first draft, but for many of the actors in this drama it is already a bad omen, because, despite the beautiful words and the supposed ambition, it seems to largely reflect the agenda of the rich. Some welcome it because it repeats the 1.5 ° C target as the critical temperature target and, for the first time, calls on countries to accelerate the phase-out of subsidies on coal and fossil fuels.
But it is what is not in the draft that is equally important. It’s full of words like “urge” and “acknowledge,” but it doesn’t mention the $ 100 billion a year that rich countries pledged nine years ago to help the poor adapt to climate change; failure to accept your financial or moral responsibility for disasters; nothing about transparency or carbon markets; no plan or proposal to phase out other fossil fuels; and not accepting that rich countries must act first.
Now the stage is being re-set for the world’s poor and most vulnerable countries to back down hard and seek genuine commitments to act. The many groups of small island states, less developed nations, Africans and Latin America are really shocked and concerned. Not only is the world on track for a catastrophic 2.4 ° C rise in temperature and nowhere near the 1.5 ° C target, they say, but according to this draft, it appears they are being abandoned and denies the right to develop with coal or be economically. helped adapt to a crisis they did not cause.
Join the chorus of NGOs, youth groups, indigenous peoples, and charities that now step up as the strong voice of the people. They, too, are shocked by the draft’s apparent lack of ambition and tell rich countries to be much more forceful. “These empty words are far from their goal to meet the scale of the enormous challenge facing humanity,” says an ActionAid spokesperson. “Far from being a real plan by governments to solve a worsening climate crisis, it is more of a polite request that countries perhaps, possibly, perhaps do more next year or at some point in the future,” says a representative from Greenpeace.
As of this point in the Cop26 drama, the lines have not been written and it is impossible to guess which way the conversations will go. Possibly the UK will go blind, its diplomats twisting their arms furiously, asking for favors, taking out money and conjuring up the missing words that poorer nations want; But Boris Johnson is equally likely to have overestimated his ability to unite countries, misinterpreted the mood of the meeting, and left it too late to get it back. That could explain why the prime minister rushed back to Glasgow, possibly having been aware that diplomatic embarrassment lurks without the highest level of intervention. There is little time left to close the gaps and very little good will to assimilate the critical last two days of negotiations.
Now it’s a genuine thriller that could go either way. Over the next 36 hours, the UK will improvise many more drafts which will be rejected. But if COP26 resembles so many others, the poorest countries will eventually line up behind the most powerful and a shorter text will be presented to the world and grudgingly accepted. Rich nations, again, will probably get away with it.
But it may take many years for critics to declare that Cop26 has been a sham, a tragedy, or an unexpectedly spectacular success.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism